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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

27 April 2024 Venue Priestfield Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Reports

REPORT | Gillingham 2 Rovers 2

27 April 2024

Rovers booked their place in the Sky Bet League Two play-offs after a tense and enthralling final day draw.

Grant McCann’s side looked to be cruising to victory as they led by two at the break.

Joe Ironside set Rovers on their way with his 20th league goal of the season - and sixth in his last five matches - before Luke Molyneux marked his 100th appearance for the club with a stunning effort.

But Thimothée Lo-Tutala was sent off on 54 minutes after handling outside his box, with Tim Dieng pulling a goal back for Gillingham with the resulting free kick.

A Tom Anderson own goal drew the hosts level on 62 minutes, setting up a nervy final half hour.

Rovers however defended superbly, with bodies put on the line to maintain parity and secure the point needed to make sure of a play-off berth.

The result confirmed a fifth-placed finish and booked a semi-final tie against Crewe Alexandra.

McCann made one change to the side that started the win over Colchester United four days earlier with Tommy Rowe restored to the XI.

Rovers started with real intent and almost took an early lead when Molyneux fed Ironside into the box but a smart save from Gillingham keeper Jake Turner blocked the angled drive.

The hosts settled into their shape to deny Rovers space to operate, ensuring the ball remained at the back for lengthy spells.

Owen Bailey was denied with a block after racing onto a lay-off from Ironside while Tim Dieng drew the first stop of the afternoon from Lo-Tutala with a shot on the turn.

Former Rovers loanee Josh Andrews sent a header on gol from a Jonny Williams cross but Lo-Tutala was well-placed.

Rovers began to move the ball with greater pace to open up space in the opposition half. Molyneux pounced on a block and lashed a shot straight at Turner.

And they took the lead on 29 minutes. Bailey burst out of midfield with the ball and curled a superb cross into the box where Ironside met it with a superb diving header.

The advantage was doubled seven minutes later. A short corner routine found Molyneux 20 yards out and he smashed into the far top corner for a stunning tenth goal of the campaign.

Dieng directed a header narrowly off target in the early stages of the second half for the hosts before Lo-Tutala made a superb save after Andrews had been played clean through.

Rovers suffered a blow on 54 minutes when Lo-Tutala saw red after handling outside the area. Having raced out of his box, he instinctively stuck out a hand as Andrews flicked the ball over his head.

And the advantage was halved as Dieng smashed a superb free kick beyond substitute Louis Jones.

Gillingham were level just after the hour mark when Anderson inadvertently bundled into his own goal from close range from a corner.

James Maxwell weaved into the box from a throw in and was bundled over but referee Alex Chilowicz did not entertain calls for a penalty.

Anderson denied Dom Jefferies with a brave block inside the box.

Gillingham pushed for a winner in the later stages and it took a brilliant goalline clearance from Bailey to make sure of the point.

Rovers: Lo-Tutala, Sterry, Anderson, Wood, Maxwell, Craig (Westbrooke 80), Molyneux (Broadbent 80), Bailey, Rowe (Jones 55), Adelakun (Olowu 63), Ironside. Subs not used: Nixon, Hurst, Waters.

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